It's a trend that's been running a good 20 years ... trucks keep getting bigger and bigger. Not all that long ago when testing a 2008 Dodge Durango, we realized that this so-called mid-size truck was as large as the full-size Dodge 1500s of the 1980s. As further proof of the super-size truck culture, Toyota launched the largest half-ton light-duty truck in the world, the 2007 Tundra.

With fuel prices remaining over three bucks per gallon, what the world needs now is not another huger than huge pickup. Drivers need a good small truck, something akin to the mini-trucks of the 1970s and 80s. In a move that shows Toyota can not only think big, but also small ... the company has launched the A-BAT compact truck concept.

See the Toyota A-BAT Photo Gallery

From the pictures, it's difficult to judge the size of the A-BAT, but with an overall length of just 181.3 inches, it's a foot shorter than a new Honda Accord sedan. The A-BAT has a unibody, like a car, so it's lightweight, but its long wheelbase and higher ride height give it some off-road capabilities. This points toward one of the goals the design team pursued, versatility.

Countering the fuel-swilling character of their own Tundra truck and Sequoia SUV, the A-BAT is powered by a fuel-sipping gas-electric hybrid drive system like that in the Toyota Prius.

The A-BAT's capabilities are enhanced by a deep pickup-style box and a midgate that opens up a clear passageway between the interior and the bed. Items over 90 inches can be carried when the mid- and tailgates are lowered.

The interior accommodates four in an environment filled with aluminum, carbon fiber and high-tech fabrics. As you'd expect on a concept, electronic gizmos and gadgets are everywhere. AC and DC electrical outlets can charge everything from laptops to power tools. The A-BAT's audio system includes a hard drive for music and other media storage, plus the dash's 7-inch LCD screen is Wi-Fi linked to the internet.

We're glad to see a major manufacturer like Toyota looking at compact trucks. It's been too long since a new one has come out. But we hope Toyota spends some more time on the truck's name ... what were they thinking? A-BAT-OUT-OF-HELL? AY-BATTER-BATTER-BATTER? Your guess is as good as ours. Maybe better.

See Our Full Coverage of the 2008 Detroit Auto Show



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